My Haircut Manifesto

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with my hair. Actually, I take that back. I mostly have always hated it. It’s fine, it’s thin(ning), and it always seems to want to do what it wants do. Namely, fall straight in front of my face.

I always had dreams of my hair looking like this:

(For you young folk, that’s Jaclyn Smith as Kelly Garrett, one of the original Charlie’s Angels)

Instead, my hair usually ended up looking like this:

So what’s a girl to do?

I learned the secret way back in 1995 when my friend Penny finally convinced me to go to her expensive salon in downtown Cleveland. I spent $40 on a haircut. WHAT?!? That was a lot of money back then and kind of is now too. It was a fru-fru place that had me put on a robe before I even got my hair cut.

And when I came out? MAGICAL.

I looked and felt so much better. My hair laid the way I always knew it was meant to lay. I knew right then and there that I would never set foot in the Hair Cuttery ever again.

(some of my best and worst hair through the decades)

Since that time, I am willing to pay for good hair. Shortly after my fabuloso haircut, I moved from Cleveland to Raleigh and was forced to find a good hair stylist. I found one and loved what she did to my hair. And then that fool girl up and moved so she could get married.

I moved around a bit always thinking that a good salon was an automatic guarantee of a good stylist. Not so, my friend. Just because you pay a lot doesn’t mean you get a lot.

I finally settled on a stylist recommended by a few people at work. His name was Ajido and I affectionately referred to him as the Hair Nazi. He had rules.

You can’t be late. Ever.

If he doesn’t like your attitude, he’ll refuse you as a client.

If you want something done to your hair that he doesn’t approve of, he won’t do it.

And did I tell you about the ego? He bragged about how he was a stylist in Paris for years. And he loved to tell me the story of the woman who’s daughter dyed her hair pink for the holidays. Somehow she expected to be able to wash it right out and return to her beautiful blond. Ajido told me she went to four different stylists and none of them could help her until… him. When he was finished and had successfully returned her hair to blond, he was sure to tell her that only two people could ever pull off that feat, “Me and Jesus.”

Oh yes, he was a character. Why did I put with it for four years? Because he really was that good. His coloring skills were amazing and my hair always looked fabulous. But it always looked the way he wanted it to look. Usually shorter (he said my face was too long for long hair) and with blond highlights. I think it looked good but after a while I just wanted something different. And if I was paying $50 for a haircut, I wanted to get it.

It wasn’t until he whispered in my ear one day that his prices had gone up to $65 per haircut that I knew our relationship was over.

I got laid off. I let my hair grow out. And I dyed it dark brown by myself AT HOME. I hope he never finds out.

After a while, I realized that I do still need hair maintenance. And then I found Michelle. My friend Jenna (whose hair I have always adored) convinced me to drive all the way out to the middle of nowhere (in my terms anyway) to a little salon in Johnston County (if you’re from this area, you can insert a Johnston County joke here).

I walked into the salon and as I was waiting to meet the specific stylist that Jenna uses, I was terrified. There were old ladies in there to get their short, permed ‘dos. There were firemen coming in for their buzzcuts. And even the sylists were saying things like “It’s fixin’ to storm. I better go get me some sweet tea.”

I’m exaggerating that last part but the stylists were definitely southern and definitely not my style.

Then Michelle walked out with tattoos on her arms, wearing a black apron, and really cute shoes. And I loved her hair. Since then, she’s taken care of me. I give her a little guidance and he exceeds my expectations. Some days, when I’m feeling dangerous, I tell her to just do what she wants. But short and blond are never in the cards.

As I hope and pray there is a move in the cards for us this year, I also stress about my hair. Who will understand my complicated history? Who will know exactly how to deal with my lovely thinning locks? I’m thinking I might have to make a quarterly visit back to Raleigh (well, Johnston County) to maintain my mane.

  • Glenda Childers

    It is indeed one of the many tough things about moving … new hair stylist, new doctor, new dentist.

    I moved to Chicago a year ago (from Seattle) … and found in our funky little neighborhood a hipster hair place. (My daughters told me it was hipster.) They serve a beer with your $20 haircut. Michelle is my new hero and my new best friend. She gives me the best cut I have ever had … and only $5. to color my eyebrows.

    I am the only gray head they have ever seen … and they all like it.

    Great and funny post.

    • Anonymous

      Beer and a hip $20 haircut? I might be flying to Chicago for my next haircut.

  • momma23monkeys

    The relationship between a gal and her stylist is a complicated one. It is ever so difficult to break up. I did the unemployed, grow it out cuz you can’t afford a haircut, go to Sally’s Beauty supply and buy your own color route. It was working for me for awhile but I have the opposite problem..incredibly thick, tons and tons of hair. I freaked out and walked into a place on December 30. Ida the aging hairdresser talked me into bangs….i haven’t had bangs since the late 80s. She spent an hour and a half styling my hair..and it looked great but I have 3 kids…not an hour a half. Luckily it was our first time together so it will be easy to break up with her.

    • Anonymous

      Never go to an aging hairdresser. I’m at the age where I need to always go to someone younger than me. I love my stylist but will admit she “banged” it up a little too much for me this week. It will grow in quickly so I’ll hang tough.

  • Claire

    One of the reasons that my hair is insanely long right now (the longest it’s been since high school, maybe ever) is because I haven’t been home to NY in so long. I have gone to the same stylist for a decade. I would go home to NY when we were living in other states and make sure I scheduled an appointment while I was there. But now I haven’t been home for six months and it will be another six months before I go back, and I’m feeling the panic of having to find a stylist here. How do I find one? What if s/he butchers my hair? What if I don’t like chatting with the stylist (my stylist in NY and I still text sometimes, this is how much I like her)? So I stay in denial and my hair gets worse by the minute. It’s bad news. 

    • Anonymous

      You have to find someone whose hair you love. Even if it’s a random woman in the grocery and ask her where she goes and WHO she goes to. Don’t ever just take a random recommendation. You need to see results.

  • Jocelyn

    I completely agree about finding and sticking with (if not even following!) a good stylist. When I lived out east after college, I would literally get my hair cut when I traveled back to Madison b/c I loved my salon there so much and was scared to try to find someone new in NYC. I went to a Cost Cutters 1 time in Jersey City and the woman almost gave me a mullet!

    I’ve found a place I love here in Milwaukee, but my favorite stylist up and vanished on me last year. :( Right after I’d had a baby and was losing hair by the boatload, too, all of which I had to explain to a new girl. Fortunately I’ve found another stylist at the same salon who I adore, so she’d better not disappear too!

    • Anonymous

      I cringed when I read Cost Cutters. I took my poor son to a Sports Clips figuring it would be hard to screw up a little boy’s hair. Apparently, they think all little boys should have something close to a crew cut!

  • Melisa – Mommy This and That

    It took me forever to find a stylist when we moved from FL to GA. And even down in FL I hadn’t found my stylist soulmate. My hair is thick and curly and not many people can deal with it. It seemed to get stuck at my shoulders (would not grow past them) and each year I’d get frustrated and cut it. I thought after moving to GA surely I’d have no problems finding a good stylist. It took me 3 years. And my hair finally grew and I didn’t have to leave the salon with my hair smelling of chemicals. The price? 85$ for just the haircut. I justified it because I loved the way my hair looked and felt. Fast forward to the salon moving and suddenly becoming too fru fru and not telling me they moved, raising prices and telling me I had the wrong date for an appointment and I ended the relationship. A month later there was a groupon type deal for a place and after reading the reviews I gave it a shot. Lo and behold, another gal that did wonders to my hair. The giveaway was when she said she would be cutting my hair dry…which is really how curly hair should be cut if it is worn more straight than curly. Then that girl moved and they put me with someone else at the salon. First time she was great, second time I felt like she didn’t really want to be doing my hair but it came out good and the price is half of the fru fru place and also in a hipster area. Now we are moving and I may take your recommendation or I too may be making quarterly visits to Atlanta for my upkeep.

    (Sorry to hijack your comment section with my sob story…)

    • Anonymous

      It seems like we all have hair sob stories to share. While I love my stylist, I didn’t *love* my haircut this week (which is why I didn’t post a recent picture!) I’ve heard thick and curly hair is very hair to deal with so I sympathize!

  • Anonymous

    I really like your current cut! I need one DESPERATELY.

    • Anonymous

      Oh, and my favorite hairdresser ever lives in Cincinnati now. I haven’t found another regular one since. 

    • Anonymous

      Do what I said above to someone. Find someone whose hair you like. Even if it’s a random stranger and ask her WHO she goes to!

  • Anonymous

    I need to find a good stylist.  For the past few years I’ve pretty much given up on my hair – I just grow it out, cut it all off, then grow it out again.  My hair is really thin and (I feel like) constantly oily.  I feel like I have to wash it twice a day.  When I was in college I went to a great salon and I LOVED my hair.  But, it cost me three figures every two months.  Ouch.  I think I need to find some middle ground.

    • Anonymous

      Also, I keep forgetting to sign out of my work Disqus account. I give up pretending there’s a difference.  :p

    • Anonymous

      That’s how I lived for years. Cut it off, grow it out. I still kind of do the same thing as long as I don’t cut it too short. I did get it cut this week and it’s a bit shorter than I like but it will grow!!

    • Anonymous

      Try using a dry shampoo mid-day in your roots if you feel you are getting too oily. also, make sure you are using a shampoo /conditioner that is right for thin or fine hair.

      My best advice when looking for a stylist is find someone committed to advanced education. Inquire about their training. If I want a precision cut, I go to my friend who is vidal trained.
      Different people need different things…so find someone with a hair type similar to yours and ask who does their hair.

  • Kristiina

    Alright lady, as a JoCo resident….who is this magical stylist, where is her salon and how much does she charge.  I have someone that I like, but wouldn’t be opposed to someone new either:)  

    • Anonymous

      It’s $40. It right at 40/42. Radiance Salon and you HAVE to ask for Michelle Drake.

      • Kristiinalong

        I’ve seen that salon a million times and always wondered about it. Let me know if you find anything else wonderful in Johnston county.

        I just got a hair cut, so it will be a while before I need a touch up…but we’ll see.

  • Broot Floondragon

    My challenge is always to find a stylist who can actually cut naturally curly hair. They all *say* they can, but there is technique to it, and if it’s done wrong, I look like a plucked chicken. I’ve been lucky where I’m living now, and I completely understand your concern!!

    • Anonymous

      If you read the comment from @a2b54b60a1155581bc2ad338409060f9:disqus it is clearly a common problem. The dry cut must be the way to go. As someone with very straight hair, I have no advice.

    • Anonymous

      Go to and find a partner salon. They specialize in curly hair.

  • Good Day, Reg People

    Man, I loved this post…the pictures of you …I want to do this and YES to NEVER meeting anyone who cuts my hair they way I like it.  YOu were lucky, for me? they just don’t know what to do with the poofball on my head.

    • Anonymous

      I cringed before I hit publish but we all appreciate a litte self-deprecating humor, right? You HAVE to get a recommendation from someone whose hair you like that ALSO has hair like you!

  • KeAnne

    Another Johnston County resident begging to know the location of the talented lady!  I finally committed to a hair stylist at a somewhat upscale salon in North Raleigh 2 years ago but I dunno…I might need a change.  I think my main problem (ha ha) is that I need the stylist to come to my house every day and do my hair.

    • Anonymous

      It’s $40. It right at 40/42. Radiance Salon and you HAVE to ask for Michelle Drake.

      • KeAnne

        Geez, that’s 10 minutes from my house! If you are ever down this way on a weekend, let me know!

  • Complicated Mama

    First let me say every time Ive seen you, your hair looks nothing short of Fab. :)

    But oh, how I can relate to the hair dresser woes!! I too have fine, fine hair. I’m not ready to say its thinning out- but I know it probably is. I played musical hair stylists for 5 years after moving to NJ… and I too tried the ol’ out-of-the-box color. Its hard finding a new stylist. REALLY hard.

     Just last month I switched again when I made the bold decision to get extensions because I was tired of my thin-never-growing- hair…. and I sat in the salon 6 hours — thats right SIX— while she tried to do “corrective color”. *sigh* the perfect example of what you said in your post– expensive doesn’t mean you get the best.

    Long LONG story short,  I am loving having long hair (even if its not mine lol) but I will NEVER, — EVER— go back to her for color. NIGHTMARE.

    • Anonymous

      And of course I went straight to your FB profile to check out your hair. I would not have known those were extensions. I love having long hair but she did cut a few inches off this week and made it a wee bit too short in the front. Oh well. Next conference is end of February so I should be styling by then :)

  • SimplyGabriela

    If you’re ever in NY City, my brother-in-law is an excellent stylist. I totally understand what you mean about love-hate relationship with hair.

  • Hines-Sight Blog

    Love this post, Fadra.   I’m going to cheat on my stylist.  I need a new perspective for 2012.  

  • Anonymous

    I love the collection of hair photos you posted!! A great stylist really is hard to find. I have long, thick wavy hair and an expensive stylist once gave me the sleek Jennifer Anniston cut I asked for. He should not, I repeat – should not – have listened to me. I wish I could pull off bangs like you do!

  • Dominiquegoh

    It’s really hard to find a good hairdresser.. it took me a while to get one which I I could really relate to. We travel back to my mum’s place each time we need a haircut now as there aren’t any ones that I like where I live.

  • Angela

    I am in hair flux right now.  I had gone to the same stylist for a while, then she went on maternity leave, and I went rogue and colored it myself, had it cut at a hair stylist school place, and now I need…something else…

  • Laine Griffin

    I’m still searching for a good stylist. I thought I found one, and now she’s gone on a mission and IDK when she’s coming back. I wish she had told me that she was going before I got attached!

  • Mary

    Oh, it certainly is hard to find a good stylist. And you can’t judge a place by its appearance. I once went to a very inexpensive corner salon where all the old ladies went for their weekly appointment, and she was great! There is something to be said about the feeling of pampering a high end salon can offer, though, with wine and paraffin hand treatments…

    • Anonymous

      Mary – I’ve been to the corner salons as well. I once went to a place called Bushwhackers. While it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, you do generally get what you pay for.

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